Almost all successful football nations around the world have sound, strong youth structures. Such structures normally start with Premier League teams in order to easily feed their senior team. Well-developed players go to the extent of being introduced to elite football at a very young age to soak all the pressure so that they do not struggle along the way. Even when they play international football they excel with easy and help their respective nations to conquer the world.
Countries like Brazil and Spain have made football some kind of religion and most kids aspire to make careers out of football because of the rewards they see and even the good supporting structures around them.
Spain is currently the world’s football heavyweight and that did not happen by accident. After faring miserably in most international competitions, they overhauled their youth structures and put emphasis on training as many coaches as possible so that most kids could not only be taught good basics but the right ones.
Spain currently boasts of the fact that they have three times more qualified coaches than England and this means kids are automatically exposed to the right coaching as more coaches lie around.
In Botswana most teams seem to care less about football development and those in the Premier League want ready-made material. Most Premier League teams seem not to care much about young players who are properly developed with a lot of potential. The fraction that is signed is not given much needed chance.
The typical example that once even irked the then Technical Director of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) was former youth international, Aubrey Kebonnetse. He showed a lot of potential from Under 17 and 20 by scoring goals regularly. He ended up being signed by Township Rollers but was not given enough chance.
The then Technical Director of the BFA, Losika Keatlholetswe, said by not giving Kebonnetse a chance, Rollers were depriving the country of an upcoming top striker. Rollers, on the other hand, hit back, saying Keatlholetswe should stop meddling in the team’s affairs. Currently he is studying in the US and playing College football.
Botswana’s national Under 17 played at the Africa Youth Championships early this year and were the only representatives from Southern Africa.
Surprisingly, local teams did not scramble for those players as some people would have thought. By the close of the just passed transfer window, some of the players either do not have full time clubs or are playing in lower divisions. It remains to be seen whether those that have been signed will be given a deserved chance.
Coach of the national Under 17, Kagiso Kobedi, has once again decried the state of youth development affairs in the country. He said teams would rather scramble for very older players left with few years in their legs instead of young and vibrant ones.
“The way our teams approach development is really shocking. Here is the cream of the country that was envied by many countries but our own teams are doing little to take the players to another level. If you look at players of other countries who went to the African Championships you will find that all of them are attached to bigger teams and are playing. Our teams are not showing much interest in signing them and the few that are signed are not given a deserved chance,” he said.
Kobedi added that it is about time teams took development serious. He said teams should have their own development structures and produce their own development. He said if that were the case Botswana would be a force to reckon with in international football.
The only two teams that have been active in football development for years are Notwane and Uniao Flamengo Santos. The two teams withstood the worst of the times and most players in the Premier League were developed from the two teams.